According to the Spanish press, Liverpool are interested in signing Real Sociedad central midfielder Mikel Merino.
The lowdown: Premier League return?
The 25-year-old spent the 2017/18 campaign on loan at Newcastle United but endured a difficult time in England, scoring once and providing one assist in 25 appearances across all competitions.
Despite failing to set the world alight at St James’ Park, Merino was signed on a permanent basis before being sold to Real Sociedad for £10million (Chronicle Live), having failed to make another outing for the Premier League club.
He has been impressive since the move back to the Reale Arena, and now a return to the English top-flight could be on the cards…
The latest: Liverpool keen
As per Fichajes, Liverpool, and by extension transfer guru Julian Ward, are keeping track of the Spanish midfielder after ‘following’ Merino during the January transfer window.
It’s also claimed that Newcastle are eyeing up a reunion as Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund also show an interest in the 11-cap ace, who is expected to be one of the ‘great topics’ in the upcoming transfer window.
Whilst the report makes no mention of a potential fee, Merino has a market value of £45million and is currently under contract until 2025 (Transfermarkt).
The verdict: Strengthening required
Albeit a position of relative strength in numbers within the Anfield squad, the central midfield department has come into question following the departure of the ever-reliable Gini Wijnaldum.
Both Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are fast approaching the final 12 months of deals on Merseyside and the club could cash in this summer, while Thiago, Jordan Henderson and James Milner all appear to need their minutes handled carefully in order to avoid fitness complications.
So far this season Merino has directly contributed to eight goals from 35 outings, primarily from a box to box midfield role, despite possessing the versatility to play more advanced and also in a defensive capacity.
Boasting a wide range of impressive attributes including interceptions, key passes and tackling (WhoScored), signing the star once described as ‘quality’ by Rafa Benitez could be a smart move by new Reds sporting director Ward.
In other news, James Pearce makes an early team prediction Read more here.
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